Transgender/Transsexual/Genderqueer?

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Question
So, I am a very confused individual (this is going to be a ride, so sorry in advance, also if there is too much information). They say that your brain finishes developing at the age of 25, but I still don't know what I want to be.
As a child, I decided that I would never be a Disney princess because I had glasses. I often took on more masculine roles whenever my sisters and I played, or put on performances for our parents. I was the oldest, and tallest, and so for us, the man had to be taller. I recall asking my parents once if I looked like a boy when I had my hair hidden under a hat. I think they may have thought that I was asking if I was ugly, rather than would I be able to pass, and told me I was too cute to be a boy.
These days, I identify as non-binary (in my head). I haven't come out to anyone, really, so I just go by default pronouns and use the women's bathroom. I don't like it when people call me a lady, or a woman, or call me Miss. I have slowly adopted a slightly more masculine fashion. I keep my hair short, and wear men's clothing sometimes, I also have a binder, but I have only worn it a few times when I was alone. Most of the time I feel pretty good about the way I am, but other times I have a bit of gender dysphoria, and casually decide that I'd be better without boobs, and that I'd rock a beard. Sometimes I do makeup for a fake beard and decide I'd make a really good looking guy. Sometimes I think about top surgery, but I'm pretty broke, and don't you need a counselor's approval for that? I also have benign lumps in my breasts, and I've thought of using them as an excuse. I think the dysphoria mostly comes from my boobs. While I think having a penis would be really convenient, and I'd love to never mensturate ever again, I'm ok with my bottom half. The most I'd do id probably get my tubes tied because sometimes the thought of being pregnant makes me sick (nothing against other people, but I never want kids. If anything, maybe I'd adopt, but not make one). And again, I think of it mostly casually.
I don't often wear make up, or form fitting clothes (at least not tight shirts). Sometimes I think about growing my hair out. every once in a while, when I dress "too" feminine I feel uncomfortable, however I feel the need to do so in order for people to like me. I'm pretty asexual (probably) but whenever I take slight interest in someone (not that anything would actually happen), I feel like they are the type of person who would want someone more feminine. I fear that people will stop liking me if I'm too masculine. On top of that there is the whole stupid ordeal with the bathrooms, and how society is still so medieval about the whole thing.
Another thing is, if I did come out I feel like my mother would be the most upset. Even though she has expressed increasing acceptance of the lgbtq community, she was raised catholic with tons of children on either side of the family, and I'm pretty sure she expects grandchildren. The only time I brought it up that maybe I wouldn't have kids, she started crying. Also she brings up the "I carried you inside me" argument as if it has any significance to me. I think my Dad would be ok with it, because he has a daughter from a previous marriage who came out, he's cool with it, and very proud of her.
I've researched, and anonymously asked others, and they always say that I need to figure it out myself, and sometimes it takes a while to figure it out. It has been a while, and I still don't know. Also, it upsets me to think about it too much and come to no conclusion. I really would like to figure it out because If it turns out that I'd rather be a guy, then I'd like to transition sooner rather than later. But I also don't want to make commitments that turn out not what I wanted later on.

Sorry if that made no sense. Maybe you have some words of wisdom as to how I can figure this out.
Thank you

Answer
Hello there, Dunno!

One thing that you need to keep in mind is that being transgender is not an 'all or nothing' thing when it comes to the binary. What one person needs to fit their personal comfort level and ideal is not necessarily what another person would need, and even *want*.

You mention that you want chest surgery, but no bottom surgery. Meanwhile, while I identify as male, and am on hormones, I want neither: I am happy with the body parts I was born with, but that doesn't make me less male. Another individual who identifies as male may require full phalloplasty in order to feel comfortable with their gender: they can't bear to see the lack of a penis in the mirror and not want to kill themselves for the disparity. And neither of these three are wrong. They are all a physical expression of what you feel is your correct gender, and in the end, *that* is the person, first and foremost, who needs to feel at peace with them. Not your mother. Not your friends. You.

If you find yourself looking in the mirror, hating the pronouns you are forced to wear, hating your breasts, then getting evaluated for the possibility of those changes may be exactly what you need to consider. Yes, it is going to be something that will change your life. Yes, it may distance you from your family. However, when it comes down to it, you're letting those people who are silencing you ruin two lives: the life of the person that you are now, and the life of the happy person that you *could* be. There's just no up-side here.

My suggestion for you is to seek out a therapist, and make sure that you have supportive people around you. I wish that I could say everything will be OK, but the fact is that sometimes, venomous people have to be cut out of your life, and there is no one more venomous than those who would use guilt in order to manipulate you. She carried you inside her, yes. If that is the case, why is she not now standing by you and supporting you? Why is she now using that to hurt you, rather than using it to remind herself that you are, and always will be, her child?


No one can figure out *for* you what it is that you need as part of your gender. No one but you can figure out what gender it is that you identify as. No one but you can make the final decision on who you are. In the end, it is you, the human being, the person, whatever identity in gender that human being ends up being, that has the final say in it all. Transition or no. That does not change who you are inside. It only changes how much comfort that you can find with that person.

Find a therapist. Not to 'talk you out of it' or 'talk you into it', but just to talk. Find your balance and find your center. Have somewhere that you have someone who can help with local community, whatever community that may be. Make sure that you have someone to lean on as a person; not as 'a transgender'. Make sure you have someone to come to with the isolation, the confusion, the problems you are having as 'a person'. Not 'a transgender'. And never let yourself forget the fact that you are not your gender. Your gender is a *part* of who you are, and it is likely an important part. One that needs to be addressed. However, it is not everything that you are. Treat the rest of that 'you' with love.

And above all else, remember: there are many things that, once done, can't be undone. You *can* do things a step at a time (and many do, because of cost) so feel free to weigh out each individual step as just that: individual steps. Instead of "I want to transition" and immediately throw everything on the pile, break it down. Haircut? Wardrobe change? Hormones? Top surgery? Bottom surgery? Each of those can be a step for some people, either hard or easy, and don't need to be undertaken at the same time. Or at all. Again, as said above: your gender is your gender. Your presentation is your presentation. While they are related, they do not have to be exactly the same for every person ever.

Now clinically, depending on where you are and what insurance you have, your surgery can be covered. In particular if you have a sympathetic therapist and/or surgeon, as well as actual breast lumps. If you are certain you want the removal, and it sounds as if you're definitely considering that as a major issue for you, I would consider discussing it. Remember, however, that 'surgical removal' and 'chest contouring/plastic surgery/nipple reattachment' are two *completely* different things. If you are just wanting them removed, that's one thing. If you are wanting a male chest instead, that is completely another, and getting it covered will probably have to come under a therapist's recommendation. In addition, once they're gone, they're gone; if you get a complete mastectomy done, and later wish to have a masculine chest contouring, you will not have the nipples to reattach; you will have to be satisfied with prosthesis. If 'get rid of them' is for sure good enough for you, then consider talking with your doctor about the surgery. Just make *sure* that you have weighed that out thoroughly before you make the decision, as 'top surgery' is more than just a mastectomy.

I hope that this answer was helpful in any way! If you wish to approach with more, or want anything clarified, please feel free to leave your questions, comments, feedback, or follow-ups, and I'll get right back to you!

Trey

Transgender/Transsexual

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Trey McGowan

Expertise

I am able to answer questions about transexual and transgender issues of many kinds, but in particular those tilted toward the FTM (Female-To-Male) transgender. I can offer tips for dressing, passing, binding, packing, behavior, and the like for both drag and full lifestyle/gender transition. I may also be able to offer some help with finding local peer groups, should you be interested in peer counseling. Sexuality issues, MTF (male-to-female), and other gender issues can also be touched on and I may be able to help, and for those who may be concerned, I am kink-friendly, and while I recognize that transgender and cross-dressing are two different things, am well aware of how they can intersect.

I am not a professional (I repeat: I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL!) but I can also offer some general peer counseling suggestions and help with finding groups for all branches of gender identification and sexuality. If you are in need of finding a professional, I may be able to find a name in your area to help.

Experience

I am personally FTM transgender, living full-time and accepting of my gender identity. I am nonsurgical, and have no desire to have them done (so am unable to offer personal experience these) though I have been on testosterone as of January 2012. I am well-accepted, well-supported, and have been a support for many individuals through the years.

I have been part of a number of groups, though moving has kept discussions to long distance since then. I am well-studied for a great many years in this area, having begun reading up on it when I first identified and having kept up on it since then. I have no medical credentials in the area of gender counseling but have been part of multiple peer counseling groups and to this day help educate where I can, having not only helped with offering information on the subject to fellow transgender individuals but educated professionals along the way through my personal experience.

Organizations
PFLAG Canada: Sarnia Branch (https://www.pflagcanada.ca/en/region-list-e.php?RegionNo=4)

Publications
The Transgender Project (http://www.thetransgenderproject.com/#!trey-mcgowan) Not writings, but videos. Part of a half-hour episode which will be airing on iChannel and OutTV.

Education/Credentials
I have completed grade school, some high school, and my GED.

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